New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday sought to cast himself as an honest and unintimated leader by proposing major overhauls to key entitlement programs, a move that carries political risk for Republicans like Christie who are considering a presidential bid.
The highlights of the 12-point plan Christie outlined in New Hampshire include an income-cap on Social Security benefits and gradually raising the retirement age for Social Security benefits to 69 beginning in 2022. Those benefits should be means tested for those making more than $80,000 in non-retirement income and phased out entirely for Americans making over $200,000 a year, he said.
Though Christie said his proposals would not impact anyone currently receiving retirement benefits, curbing entitlements can be a tough sell politically because of the importance of senior citizen voters, especially in the Republican party.
"I have been talking about the growth of entitlements as a big problem, at both the state and federal levels, for a number of years, and not because it is politically popular, but because it is true," Christie said. "And because it will affect everything we can do as a country to make this century the second American century. I will not pander. I will not flip flop. I am not afraid to tell you the truth as I see it. Whether you like it or not."
The proposal is the latest attempt by Christie, once seen as a GOP frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, to kickstart his likely campaign. He signaled it would be the first of a number of similar policy speeches that could be the foundation of an upcoming campaign.
"This is a conversation Washington politicians don't have because they do not believe the American people have the appetite for hard truths. Once again, they underestimate the people they serve," Christie said. "Americans not only deserve fairness, they deserve the honesty of their leaders."
-- Andrew Rafferty